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Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Think You Know the Byrds? (MUSIC REVIEW BY SCOTT OKEN)

Everyone knows the Byrds. The folksy, mop-toppish, Bob Dylan song covering quintet that roamed the 60s, playing electric 12-string jams with impeccable, multi-layered vocals. You know all the hits. “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star”, “Turn, Turn, Turn” and the like. Back in the day, they were one of the loudest bands as well. Imagine some blaring compressed 12-string Rickenbacker guitar chiming your skull into oblivion!!!!!!!!

What I want to concentrate on is the period after this well known era. They became a completely different band with a complete turnaround in members save band leader Roger McGuinn. You can read up on that here.

My purpose here is to give y’all some reviews of their later albums and to nudge y’all to get up, go to the car/El/bus/rickshaw, and go to your nearest place that sells musical discs (or you could just utilize this “computer” thing, that the kids all like and download stuff)

The album that starts the transition is…

The Notorious Byrd Brothers-This was a total transition album from the well-known electric folk-rock to a more psychedelic sound and some premonitions of the country rock sound they would embrace in albums to come. Notable songs: “Artificial Energy”, “Natural Harmony”, “Draft Morning” also on the special edition “Triad” a song about a three-way…hippies. Smoke a bowl and put this on. You will not be disappointed. OKen’s Ultimate Rating (OUR) 10/10

Sweetheart of the Rodeo-They got Graham Parsons for this one, and he immediately made his presence felt. If you don’t like guitar-driven country mixed with folk and more country, this may not be the lp for you. If that doesn’t bother you, this is just a treat! Roger McGuinn started surrounding himself with stellar musicians here including the fantastic Clarence White, one of THE most underrated guitarists of all time! Notable songs: “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”, “One Hundred Years From Now” and “You Got a Reputation”. This one is an acquired taste, but it grows on you. OUR: 6.5/10

Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde- This one always got blasted in the reviews, but in reality, it’s a damn fine album! The country thing is still there, but not on every track, and the break out the rock and roll quite a bit here. Notable songs: “Bad Night at the Whiskey” “Child of the Universe” “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man” (a song written about a Southern DJ that treated them like shit in an interview), and ‘King Apathy III”

This album is an undiscovered little gem! OUR: 9/10

The Ballad of Easy Rider-Solid, if unspectacular. Notable songs: “Jesus is Just Alright” (yes that one), and “The Ballad of Easy Rider” OUR: 6/10

Untitled-Half live, half studio. The live half is great! They play a lot of the old classics, but give it some oomph! (I wrote “oomph”). Come to think of it, the studio half kicks it as well. More country rock here, but it works like a friggin’ charm! Notable songs “Lover of the Bayou” (Table flipping psychedelic jam!!) “Mr. Tambourine man”(kick ass version) “Eight Miles High” (for 16 minutes…enjoy acid) and one of my favorites of all time “Chestnut Mare” OUR: 26/10

Byrdmaniax-Kind of a weird one, but shit, we’ve come this far…Notable songs: “Tunnel of Love” “Pale Blue” OUR: 5/10

Farther Along-This was the last one before some guys died and they broke up. This is a really, really good album! They kind of do it all here and it’s quite enjoyable! Notable songs: “Tiffany Queen”, “Farther Along” “Bugler” and “Lazy Waters”. McGuinn lets everyone else sing more on here as well. OUR: 9.5/10


So, in conclusion, I think it’s worth it to delve deeper into this classic band’s catalogue. Go out and get The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and Untitled at least. You will live a better life…

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